For most of this season, sophomore Brandon Bolden has been the featured tailback and has run the Wild Rebel sporadically for the Rebel offense.
Then the Ole Miss coaches got more and more comfortable with giving Dexter McCluster the ball from the tailback slot and Bolden's presence diminished a little.
After careful consideration, the mentors then decided Bolden's talents were being under-used, so they put him in a split back set with Dexter, used him at TB and at Wild Rebel like before, and even added some fullback duty to his worksheet.
"When I was being recruited, I told Coach (Houston) Nutt I didn't care where he put me, I would give it my best. I meant that," said Bolden. "I'm a man of my word. I'm happy doing anything the coaches ask me to do."
Against Tennessee, in the Rebs' 42-17 victory last weekend, Bolden did a little bit of everything.
He rushed for 46 yards on 11 carries. He scored a touchdown on a 4-yard run. He caught two passes for 16 yards. And he helped spring Dex a couple of times as #22 was piling up a school record 282 rushing yards.
"I feel good about all of it," said Bolden. "I work hard on my receiving skills, blocking, running the Wild Rebel, fullback, whatever. I just want to be ready when my number is called.
"It's not really a mental strain at all because Coach (Kent) Austin tries to make things simple for guys like Dexter and me that have a lot of different roles. It's really not that hard to learn at all."
Bolden credits Fullback Andy Hartmann, as well, for helping him when he gets in a bind with an assignment or when he's not quite sure what to do in certain situations.
"Andy knows what everyone's role is in the backfield and he even knows what all the line assignments are too, so I ask him when I need some advice," Brandon noted. "He knows who is going to be left over in the box and who has the responsibility to take care of them."
Brandon likes the challenge of fullback.
"My focus is on springing Dexter and I like that, but whether I spring him or not, when I line up the lone thought in my head is that my guy is not going to make the tackle," he explained. "That's the number one goal."
Bolden is one of several Louisiana natives on the Rebel roster. This week's game against LSU has a special meaning to him.
"I went to their camp my sophomore and junior years, but I didn't really hear from them until November of my senior season," he said. "They came to my school, got me out of class and told me they wanted me to come to LSU as a safety and I could probably switch over to RB later on.
"That wasn't something I wanted to do. I was a real big LSU fan growing up - they were just down the street from me. It was a disappointment at first, but then I thought I could go anywhere else and play running back."
Once he made up his mind not to go to LSU, he called Ole Miss Center Daverin Geralds and asked him if Ole Miss played LSU every year.
"I wanted to play somewhere in the SEC that played against LSU every year," he recalls. "When I learned Ole Miss played them every year, I told Daverin I would be there.
"Every game is big and every game is personal, but this one is the most personal."
Bolden, during his brief career, is 1-0 against the Tigers, but he knows the challenge and difficulty in staying perfect against his hometown school.
"They are comparable to what we have already seen, very good. Their defensive line is comparable to Alabama's," he began. "Their linebackers are a lot like Auburn's, but bigger. Their safeties and corners are bigger than we have seen.
"They hustle and run to the ball very well. Overall, they are a really good defense. We are going to do our best to get after them."
On the touchdown against the Vols, DT Jerrell Powe was to come in at fullback and Brandon was set to be at the traditional I-Back slot, but not before a humorous exchange between the two on the sidelines.
"Jerrell came over to me and told me to line up at fullback and he would line up at tailback and carry the ball," Bolden laughed. "When I scored, he said 'good job, but you could have fallen down at the one and let me get the last yard.' We just laughed about it."
The two shared a good chuckle, but Bolden has proven one thing.
Had the coaches asked him to line up in front of Powe and lead the big guy in, he would have happily done it.
"Whatever they want me to do - I meant it."
Bolden adjusts to new role(s)
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